x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

FA Cup rescheduling adds to Manchester City’s growing headaches

Rescheduling unlikely to improve manager Pellegrini's mood

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, is fouled in the penalty box by Manchester City's Martin Demichelis during their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match at the Etihad Stadium on February 18, 2014. Peter Powell / EPA
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, is fouled in the penalty box by Manchester City's Martin Demichelis during their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match at the Etihad Stadium on February 18, 2014. Peter Powell / EPA

Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan Athletic has been pushed back to Sunday, March 9, just three days before they bid to recover a first-leg Uefa Champions League deficit away to Barcelona.

The decision is unlikely to do much to improve the mood of the City manager Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean was left fuming after his side’s 2-0 defeat to Barca at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, with the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson the main target of his ire.

Just three days ahead of the return leg at the Nou Camp, it has been confirmed City will face holders Wigan in a re-run of the 2013 FA Cup final, with a 4pm (8pm UAE) kick off at the Etihad Stadium.

Even BT Sport, the programme host channel, recognises the scheduling is tight for City, stating the game “will fall just days before … the crucial second leg” with the Spanish champions.

City’s run of cup games next month begins with the League Cup final against Sunderland on Sunday, March 2. Following a clash at home to Stoke City on Saturday, City do not play a league game for three weeks as their cup commitments kick in.

It is the price Pellegrini’s side are paying for attacking trophies on four fronts, although their Champions League hopes look set to fall at the first knockout hurdle.

Despite Pellegrini’s rant against Eriksson, claiming he lacked “impartiality”, the man whose dismissal played a key role in City’s demise said he does not feel the referee should shoulder the responsibility.

With the game evenly poised, the Argentine defender Martin Demichelis was sent off early in the second half for a challenge on Lionel Messi that resulted in the latter scoring the opener from the penalty spot.

Assessing the incident, Demichelis told The Sun: “I tackled him because we were still outside the box.

“But I don’t blame the referee. It happened all too fast. I have seen the moment again on TV and think ‘Why did I have to tackle him and not keep running by his side?’

“I was sure I would get the ball when I made the tackle. And then you think that you will steal the ball from Messi, you realise that you don’t. But I made the foul.”

sports@thenational.ae